Over the past few months, my 10-year-old son, Jack, has developed an insatiable appetite for all things basketball. We spend hours out in the driveway playing “around the world” or “pig” (an abbreviated version of “horse”), where he unveils a dazzling array of turnaround jumpers and a truly impressive aptitude for the old school bank shot. He loves going to the fitness center or church and playing pick-up basketball with much older guys, even if he is not quite ready for that level of play and spends much of his time on the court nipping at the heels of the bigger guys like a particularly relentless Chihuahua, trying to steal the ball or harass them into making a bad pass.
Google is a wonderful thing, but it sometimes makes things harder for journalists. That’s why a new emphasis on transparency among newspapers and news sites may be one of the measures that helps save real journalism and differentiates it from all that other stuff out there on the web.
“In the digital world, where information is infinite and infinitely replicable, being transparent … helps distinguish journalism from other content on the web,” writes Martin Moore, the executive director of the Media Standards Trust, in a blog post that listed the arguments in favor of transparency.
It must have been 20 years or more since I heard a futurist telling a skeptical crowd the extent to which technology would be changing the way we live. He said that we would eventually — probably in our own lifetime — have unfettered and instant access to just about every form of entertainment we could imagine. He said we would be able to watch movies on our phones, and listen to any recording ever made — from Louis Armstrong to Loretta Lynn — on the Internet, and get the news minutes after it occurred. He said we would literally have the world at our fingertips.
I remember thinking, who wants to watch a movie on a phone? I also remember thinking how cool it would be to have that kind of access. Just imagine: as a lifelong fan of “The Andy Griffith Show,” I would someday be able to watch any episode I wanted with one or two keystrokes! As a lifelong music fanatic, I would be able to listen to any song or album I wanted anytime — and anywhere — I felt like it, since everyone would be using laptop computers and we would be able to get on the Internet virtually everywhere we went. Our computers would become the centers of our lives. Everything would become so … easy and fast. Everything would be great, beyond our imagination!
By Martin Dyckman • Guest Columnist
Whether they strut across schoolyards or along the polished halls of a state capital, all bullies are alike. They have to be the boss of everything. They can’t stand anyone who talks back. But they can be beaten.
For now, though, the bullies are on a roll in North Carolina.
“… the long-term benefits of a high-quality pre-K program can be substantial. These include higher high school graduation rates, lower rates of juvenile delinquency, less substance abuse, and higher adult earnings. Thus, many studies show that high-quality pre-K programs can improve outcomes for disadvantaged children in the short run and generate favorable returns for taxpayers in the long run.”
— Professor William T. Gormley Jr., Georgetown Public Policy Institute
Most parents who have the time and the education to take part in their children’s schooling remember well those first couple of years. Your child — with your help — was prepared for kindergarten, and then you worked with them as they learned to read and do simple math. Other children, however, came to school so unprepared that they demanded so much of the teacher’s time that it slowed the whole class down.
“Dad, do you think we’ll get out of school tomorrow?” My son, Jack, is standing in the doorway of our bedroom. Sunday night is bearing down again, and the weekend forecasts have been taunting him and his sister with the promise of a big snowstorm, which is supposed to begin around 7 a.m. on Monday morning, just in time to get them out of school. But he’s not quite prepared to buy in, not after having been burned already three or four times by faulty forecasts. What’s that song by The Who? “Won’t Get Fooled Again?”
“It is an Internet Age paradox: We have more information than ever before and yet, seem to know less. Indeed, in the Internet Age, it can be fairly said that nothing is ever truly, finally knowable, authoritative testimony always subject to contradiction by some blogger grinding axes, some graduate of Google U, somebody who heard from somebody who heard from somebody who heard.”
— Leonard Pitts, Miami Herald
Leonard Pitts calls it Secret Knowledge, the information that only a few people know, but those people who know it know it to be true. I refer to it as the Internet Plague, a condition whereby any statement — no matter how outrageous, how cockamamie, how simply stupid — will be given credence by some wild-eyed know-it-all with a computer at his fingertips, facts be damned.
I wish those planning to open a new charter school in Haywood County the best. Their intentions are completely honorable. But I also believe that the proliferation of school choice in the U.S. is not a long-term positive for the country.
Look, it would be ludicrous to argue that the U.S. system of public education is great. There are lazy, below-average teachers, way too many uninspired central office bureaucrats (who don’t, by the way, deserve double the pay of classroom teachers), and too many parents who don’t — for any of a multitude of reasons — make school a priority for their children.
I am living the days I have dreamed of all my life. “One day,” I said, somewhere ages and ages ago, “I will have children, and I will watch the Super Bowl with them just like I watched it with my dad.”
And now I do have children, and I am watching the Super Bowl with them, explaining different fine points of the game, explaining what the game represents and why the game means so much to the players, the coaches, and the fans. I am explaining (I do a lot of explaining — I am a teacher, you see, and a former sportswriter, so it’s not as if I can help myself. I would explain the game to the dog if the kids weren’t here) … wait a minute, where was I?
By Bill Lea • Guest Columnist
In the article about the bear dogs attacking a camper’s dogs (www.smokymountainnews.com/outdoors/item/14952), Wallace Messer (a bear hunter whose dogs were not involved in the attack) begins by suggesting the blame for the attack should perhaps be placed on the victims — a strategy used time after time by defense attorneys and their defendants pleading innocence. Even if Kadie Anderson’s dogs had growled as a natural reaction to protect their owner — which Kadie vehemently denies happened — that does not justify being attacked by a pack of a dozen dogs. A forest user and her pets’ well-being were still jeopardized. The bear hunting dog owners should be held accountable just like any other dog owner would be in the exact same situation. Why should any small group of dog owners be given special status with a law that protects only them when every other dog owner in the state would be held liable?